School board members deciding whether to seek re-election
With one incumbent bowing out, and another possibly stepping aside, the school board is poised to get at least two new faces this year.
Current board member Nancy Cox is definitely out.
And board member Fredrick Davis has said in recent months that he will not seek re-election in the May 6 school board election.
Davis could not be reached for comment Monday but has told colleagues and others that he does not plan to run again.
Meanwhile, when reached Monday, Cox said she has been letting people know since the summer that she would not seek re-election to the District 3 seat she has held since 2010.
Cox said she wants to pursue career opportunities in education but has been restricted because of her position on the school board.
“I love being a board member, but all of my career interests are in education,” Cox said. “I keep running into things I want to do in my career that are pressing up against my role as a school board member.”
At least one person already has their sights on replacing Cox.
Matt Sears, director for school services at North Carolina New Schools (NCNS) and a former Durham educator, said he will seek the District 3 seat.
Sears said his desire to serve on the board is two-pronged: He wants to share the expertise he’s gained at NCNS, a nonprofit that works to support innovation in education, and help to steer the school district his children will attend for the next 20 years.
“I’m excited about the prospect of working on behalf of my kids and the other kids attending Durham Public Schools,” Sears said.
Four of the board’s seven seats will be up for grabs when the election filing period opens at noon on Feb. 10. It will close on Feb. 28.
The other board members with seats up for grabs include Omega Curtis Parker in District 1 and Natalie Beyer in District 4.
Parker and Beyer both said Monday that they intend to seek re-election.
Parker said she wants to continue the work she begun when first elected to the board in 2006.
She said that work includes improving student achievement, reducing dropout and suspension rates and improving graduation rates.
But she said the district must also pay attention to students who are doing well.
“I think we as a system have to focus on those who are achievers,” Parker said. “We have to make sure we are offering them courses to help them become successful.”
Meanwhile, Beyer said she would like to continue the board’s important work.
“I think it’s an important community service,” Beyer said of serving on the board. “We’ve begun some good work and we hope to continue that.”
Beyer said the board must also stay focused on teaching retention and excellence, two issues that are of importance to school districts across the state.
One of the big jobs that could be before the new board is the hiring of a new superintendent.
Eric Becoats resigned the post in Dec. 19 after a tumultuous year marked by several high profile controversies.
The board is scheduled to meet next week to discuss the selection process, including whether to wrap up the search before the election or schedule its conclusion for sometime afterward.
“I think we’ll have some thorough conversations about that,” Beyer said. “It will be important for the board to come together and make a plan.”